How do you handle suffering?

Today I was impressed by something Winston Churchill reportedly said, “Nothing is more exciting in life than being shot at without result.”

I can only imagine the adrenaline rush of barely escaping death or severe injury as he described. As I thought about that statement though, it made me also wonder what happens when life hits us and we were not able to dodge the bullet of suffering?

In times like these, I think it is easy to feel isolated and alone as though no one else is having times of difficulty. How do we as Christians find hope to endure the dark valleys of life?

Notice what Jesus says in Rev. 2:9-10 NLT

I know about your suffering and your poverty—but you are rich! I know the blasphemy of those opposing you. They say they are Jews, but they are not, because their synagogue belongs to Satan. Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.”

What comforting words we have in “I know.” Jesus KNOWS! He is not a distant God, but one who is intimately aware of all that is going on in our lives.

Notice that Jesus also does not sugar coat the message for the believers in Smyrna who are enduring great suffering for their faith. Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer.” He didn’t tell them that their suffering was over to give them a false hope. Instead, he said, don’t be afraid when the suffering continues. In some ways, for them, the worst was yet to come.

Why can these believers continue in faithfulness in spite of their great anguish? Notice the last sentence, “If you remain faithful, even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.”

The readers could be encouraged by the reminder that Jesus knows their suffering and the promise that faithful obedience even to death will not be forgotten, but rewarded!

This morning then, I was encouraged by the reminder that Jesus knows all that is going on my life today and every day. In addition, I need not fear when difficulties come or when they even get worse. I simply have to trust God, remain faithful, and follow him regardless of what happens.  I should do all of this as I am encouraged by his promises to reward such effort.

Father, thank you for shooting straight with us. We all will suffer, some more than others. You are not surprised by this. You do not tell us to ignore such things, but that we should accept them and remain faithful to you knowing that one day you will reward the life of endurance.

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